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Last week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of New York’s largest tourism campaign in decades committing nearly $60 million to grow the industry, create jobs and attract more visitors to the Empire State. Tourism is the fifth largest employment sector in New York generating more than $29 billion in wages in 2012. One out of every 12 jobs in New York is tourism related.

“I LOVE NY” is one of the most successful and innovative state branding campaigns in history. When it was launched in 1977, no other state had done anything like it. In 1977, William S. Doyle, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce hired advertising agency Wells Rich and Greene to develop a marketing campaign for New York State. Doyle also recruited graphic designer Milton Glaser to work on the campaign.


In 1977, New York State was in the middle of a deep economic slump and New York City was crime-ridden and bankrupt. After some initial research, the State convinced the legislature to invest $4 million dollars, a huge amount at the time with the promise of brining in $8 million in revenue.

The “I LOVE NY” campaign was a star-studded extravaganza. Entire casts of Broadway shows and celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli declared their love of New York in popular television commercials. Steve Karmen wrote the “I Love NY song and Milton Glaser created a famous logo. The first campaign exceeded expectations and brought in $28 million in revenue for New York State.

The trademark I LOVE NY logo is one of the most recognizable in the travel industry. The logo has taken on a life of its own and has been promoted on state souvenirs for years.

The “I LOVE NY” campaign has been successful in rebranding New York City but has had less effect on upstate tourism. When most people outside of the state hear New York, they think the city not upstate. The recent challenge has been to expand “I LOVE NY” ┬áto represent the New York State Brand, not just a New York City Icon. Recent creative executions have leveraged the city and a New York attitude to promote both the city and state.

I applaud Governor Cuomo’s to decision to invest in building the “I LOVE NY” brand. The state has a great story to tell. The city and upstate has so much to offer to travelers, students and businesses.

What is your favorite place to visit in New York?